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Old 06-13-2017, 03:36 PM
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Synesthesia: Don't most people have some form of it?


This is prompted by a discussion with a colleague who enjoys Internet self-diagnosis (in the past year she has decided she has multiple personalities, Asperger's, is bipolar, and so on -- for all I know she's right, but she does seem to be on a quest to Be the Very Uniquest of All).

So colleague shares with me that she has self-diagnosed herself with "synesthesia thought disorder" and it's a very rare condition.I told her my thinking works in much the same way and, IMHO, it's not a thought disorder or neurological disease, it's the way that many people might make thought connections/see the world. For the uninitiated, here's an overview of synesthesia: http://https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki...esia#Mechanism

For my own edification: do other Dopers experience "cross wiring" and regard it as a normal human experience? I've always seen numbers ("13" is dark orange and "7" is navy blue) and words as having specific colors as does music, every letter of the alphabet and so on; I regard this as a gift, though extreme versions like misophonia would be really awful.
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Old 06-13-2017, 03:47 PM
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I'm familiar with the concept, and have not the slightest trace of it myself.
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Old 06-13-2017, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Jennshark View Post
For my own edification: do other Dopers experience "cross wiring" and regard it as a normal human experience? I've always seen numbers ("13" is dark orange and "7" is navy blue) and words as having specific colors as does music, every letter of the alphabet and so on
Nope, not me.

When I was a kid, I associated numbers with colors, but that was from doing lots of color-by-numbers books that had the same scheme. Nowadays I don't remember which color went with which number.
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Old 06-13-2017, 03:52 PM
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I think we all have the potential for it, and some of us have mild manifestations of it, but for most of us... no, it's not really something that's part of our day-to-day world.
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Old 06-13-2017, 03:53 PM
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Yeah, I associate letters with colors and patterns, and numbers with emotional states. But it's a very minor effect; it wouldn't surprise me to learn that level of it was widespread.
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Old 06-13-2017, 03:57 PM
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Not at all
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Old 06-13-2017, 04:05 PM
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When I was a kid, I associated numbers with colors, but that was from doing lots of color-by-numbers books that had the same scheme. Nowadays I don't remember which color went with which number.
Likewise, except that mine was from a computer programming language where the colors were indicated by numbers. I don't remember all of them, but 4 is definitely red, and 7 is green.

Regardless of where the association comes from, though, it still exists.
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Old 06-13-2017, 04:08 PM
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Not even a little bit.
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Old 06-13-2017, 04:12 PM
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I only experience it when I'm extremely fatigued, and then only in a very limited fashion. (Capital letters take on a red highlight, as if they're being selectively illuminated with a red laser, and moving shadows become associated with a kind of rushing sound.)
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Old 06-13-2017, 04:19 PM
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Another person with no synesthesia at all. Wikipedia cites a study that found synesthesia in 4.4% of the population, or 1 in 23 people.
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Old 06-13-2017, 04:20 PM
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Perhaps the potential exists in most people but it's rarely reported as actually happening. I don't know if it's actually synesthesia but the light from some sodium lamps triggers the sensation of an odor for me. Not even an odor I associate with anything else though. I have no basis for saying so but I think it's more about the proximity of the nerves in my nose and eyes.
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Old 06-13-2017, 04:29 PM
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Not when I wasn't tripping my ass off.
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Old 06-13-2017, 04:34 PM
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Not in the slightest, though my daughter has it pretty spectacularly.
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Old 06-13-2017, 04:36 PM
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There is a huge difference between synesthesia, and just associating numbers and colors, or whatever else you can name. People who actually suffer from synesthesia, have trouble telling the difference between one thing and another. People who associate this with that, know well that each is a separate thing.

I associate certain numbers with certain colors, and I know why. I started school in London England, and while there, read a series of children's books about trains. The number five engine was green, so I think of green when I hear the number five. Four was blue, and so on. But I don't SEE blue or green every time I'm presented with a five or a four, I simply have those colors pop up much as Google shows multiple results when you type in a word or two.

Again, people with synesthesia actually directly experience the cross wiring. If smells are cross wired, then whatever is crossed with smells, be it sound or color or whatever, will directly cause them to EXPERIENCE smells.

The friend who thinks they have all those maladies certainly does suffer from at least one or two, but the one or two are not necessarily any of the ones they think they have. Hypochondria is likely, as well as whatever the problem is, where a person feels that they MUST establish uniqueness at all times, even if self-delusion or lies are required. I'm sure there's a name for that, but I don't know what it is.
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Old 06-13-2017, 04:40 PM
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Synesthete here! I have colors for letters, numbers, music, some concepts, and occasionally sound (and very infrequently, taste). Other members of my family have a little, but not as much as I do.

It's not common, but it's not as rare as people used to think. Wednesday Is Indigo Blue, published in 2009, says it may be as high as 1 in 20 people, and that the most common manifestation is visual concepts.
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Old 06-13-2017, 04:43 PM
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Seven is generally purple and three is green.
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Old 06-13-2017, 04:49 PM
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Among those that have a form of synesthesia where numbers evoke colors, are there any common combinations, or do most/all those when see a number("5", for instance) see totally different colors?
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Old 06-13-2017, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Malleus, Incus, Stapes! View Post
Synesthete here! I have colors for letters, numbers, music, some concepts, and occasionally sound (and very infrequently, taste). Other members of my family have a little, but not as much as I do.

It's not common, but it's not as rare as people used to think. Wednesday Is Indigo Blue, published in 2009, says it may be as high as 1 in 20 people, and that the most common manifestation is visual concepts.
Do the cross connections ever bother you, or do you consider them upgrades? I, of course, only have access to my own thinking and it's difficult to imagine not having these associations. I'm honestly surprised that synesthesia isn't a common experience (as derived from this sample size of eight respondents )

. . . just when I thought I couldn't get any weirder!
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Old 06-13-2017, 04:58 PM
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AIUI, synesthesia is when one sensory input evokes an unrelated sensation: someone's ears receive music, and they perceive a smell or taste, for example. They may see numbers on a page, and literally see them as being rendered in various colors.

People here seem to be describing ideasthesia,, in which merely thinking about certain concepts (numbers, letters, words, etc.) evokes other perceptions (e.g. colors, shapes, or emotions) that have no rational connection. I have this condition, in that I associate darker colors and more stressed-out moods with 4,5,6 (or anything from 40-69), whereas 7,8,9 (and 70-99) are bright, warm, happy. 1, 2, 3 (or 1-39) are light, but sterile, bleak, bland. this happens in my mind, even without seeing or hearing such numbers.

Last edited by Machine Elf; 06-13-2017 at 05:00 PM.
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Old 06-13-2017, 05:00 PM
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Huh, I thought this sounded really accurate then I realized I was just remembering the pentable colors and their corresponding number that I use when drafting in AutoCAD . So a no for me, just too much time spent at the computer

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Old 06-13-2017, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Czarcasm View Post
Among those that have a form of synesthesia where numbers evoke colors, are there any common combinations, or do most/all those when see a number("5", for instance) see totally different colors?
Interesting question! Here's my "chart"
0 = white
1 = grey
2 = beige
3 = dark green
4 = light red
5 = black
6 = dark yellow
7 = navy blue (7 is incredibly vivid to me, see below)
8 = medium blue
9 = dark orange
10 = greyish white
11 = burnt umber

As numbers get higher, they often change colors ("52" is light orange); the exception is any number containing a 7 -- anything to do with 7 is always navy blue. I also have emotions linked to some numbers: 11, for example, is a sad and boring afternoon on a hot summer day (and "Tuesday" evokes the same).

Last edited by Jennshark; 06-13-2017 at 05:11 PM. Reason: Copy and paste wreck
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Old 06-13-2017, 05:44 PM
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To me, letters and numbers have colors. So do musical notes and keys. I've known this as far back as I can remember.

Even numbers tend to be in the red-purple-blue spectrum, plus black-gray-white. Odd numbers tend to be in the orange-yellow-green part of the spectrum, plus brown.

It's interesting to listen to music in which the key often changes.
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Old 06-13-2017, 06:35 PM
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Back when I had temporal lobe seizures as a kid, I did. But only during the seizure.

But that went away before I was 15, and I've not had the experience/sensation in the past 4.5 decades.
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Old 06-13-2017, 07:11 PM
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It's probably not proper synesthesia, but I have this thing with guitar chord shapes. I've mentioned it before. It's not a super strong perception, but it's constant, and it has been the same since I first picked up the guitar. It's only chord shapes as I play them, not the chords as they sound. It stays the same when I play with a capo, and, heck, I can't really tell chords apart by ear much anyway. I have like the opposite of perfect pitch. Anyway:

A = blue. B = orange. C = yellow. D = red. E = white. F = green. G = purple.

Am = light blue. Bm = peach. Cm = a rather ugly yellow (so I don't like that chord much). Dm = a very bright red. Em = still white. Fm = dark green. Gm = a greyish sort of pink.

It works for other types of chords, too, but not all of them. And, yes, this does lead to whole songs having colors, sometimes, or color themes. "Back to the Old House" by the Smiths has a lovely yellow-chartreuse-green thing going on. "Things Behind the Sun" by Nick Drake is very blue, with some blue-green, and some red splotches. And so on.
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Old 06-13-2017, 07:33 PM
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I visualize numbers as black writing against a white background, like paper or a dry erase board. I can force myself to imagine them as colors, stylized shapes, or against vibrant backgrounds, but that takes effort. I'm mediocre at math and mental arithmetic.
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Old 06-13-2017, 07:44 PM
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No synesthesia here, but misophonia for sure.
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Old 06-13-2017, 09:32 PM
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Nope. No trace - as in "how the heck does THAT work?"

I also set attribute bytes on computer screens, but cannot imagine an unconscious linkage between "those are not even close to being rational" thought patterns.

It might be fun to play with - same as LSD and hallucinations.
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Old 06-13-2017, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Jennshark View Post
Interesting question! Here's my "chart"
0 = white
1 = grey
2 = beige
3 = dark green
4 = light red
5 = black
6 = dark yellow
7 = navy blue (7 is incredibly vivid to me, see below)
8 = medium blue
9 = dark orange
10 = greyish white
11 = burnt umber

As numbers get higher, they often change colors ("52" is light orange); the exception is any number containing a 7 -- anything to do with 7 is always navy blue. I also have emotions linked to some numbers: 11, for example, is a sad and boring afternoon on a hot summer day (and "Tuesday" evokes the same).
Have you ever experienced a high multiple of seven as navy blue without being intellectually aware that it was one?
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Old 06-13-2017, 09:47 PM
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I have never experienced this.

Even so, I agree that your colleague sounds like someone who must indeed be the Uniquest of all.
(Off topic, I saw a girl wearing an obviously mass-produced shirt the other day; it said "Be UNIQUE!")
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Old 06-13-2017, 10:09 PM
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Likewise, except that mine was from a computer programming language where the colors were indicated by numbers. I don't remember all of them, but 4 is definitely red, and 7 is green.

Regardless of where the association comes from, though, it still exists.
Synethesia is NOT based on learning or conditioning, it is, when it occurs, invariable, consistent, and possibly to some degree hard-wired.

Certain pharmaceuticals like hallucinogens seem able to induce it in otherwise normal human beings. So can oxygen deprivation and other states. But few people without such influences experience it. I'll point out that "1 in 20" would still qualify as "few". No one really knows how common this is - to the people who experience it, it's normal life and they are unlikely to seek "help" for it.

Last edited by Broomstick; 06-13-2017 at 10:11 PM.
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Old 06-13-2017, 10:11 PM
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I have it, quite mildly and in the most common form (seeing colors and shapes* for sounds), and it seems so normal to me that it is hard to believe most people don't experience the same thing. My colors are pretty boring, too - I see grey or black for certain phonemes, or yellow, or a kind of washed-out orange.

All of the other days of the week are yellow, orange, black, or grey, but Tuesday has no color since I don't see any of the sounds in that word. I can remember as a little kid asking my mother repeatedly, "mommy, what color is Tuesday?" and being thoroughly exasperated when she had no idea what I was talking about, even when I explained, "You know, like Wednesday is orange, Thursday and Saturday are grey, and Friday is black?"

* Actually I don't see shapes as much as I see ... dimensional positions in space? Very hard to describe, and it is a very weak sensation. But it has been there all my life.
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Old 06-13-2017, 10:14 PM
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]



For my own edification: do other Dopers experience "cross wiring" and regard it as a normal human experience?


No.

Why would you assume that most people have this?
__________________
*I'm experimenting with E, em, and es and emself as pronouns that do not indicate any specific gender nor exclude any specific gender.
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Old 06-13-2017, 10:16 PM
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I might have some loose associations with numbers and colors, but absolutely nothing that qualifies as synesthesia. I certainly do not literally see colors or smell different scents when I hear music or see/hear numbers or anything like that, which I understand synesthesia to be (i.e. a literal crossing of sensory paths.)

So, no, not at all.
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Old 06-13-2017, 11:33 PM
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I guess it depends a little on how you define it.

I recently read an article where they were describing reading as a kind of trained Synesthesia, even without associating letters with colors, say.

Think about it: you're just seeing markings right now, yet they're (probably) accompanied by hearing a voice in your mind.
And that symbols -> voices thing is absolutely a hard-wired thing in your brain now; it's not purely conscious, that would be far too slow.
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Old 06-14-2017, 12:59 AM
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Two is blue, three is green, and four is orange. Apparently my ideasthesia likes vowel harmony. Though one is yellow, for no particular reason.

A handful of times in my life, a scene from a movie or television show has evoked a distinct olfactory sensation that is the same every time I see it. The scene where Willow is cutting off the dragon's heads is one of them.

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Old 06-14-2017, 03:13 AM
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No, I can't imagine what that's like.
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Old 06-14-2017, 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Czarcasm View Post
Among those that have a form of synesthesia where numbers evoke colors, are there any common combinations, or do most/all those when see a number("5", for instance) see totally different colors?
It also makes me clairvoyant.

Last edited by Gatopescado; 06-14-2017 at 05:48 AM. Reason: I know, I know, but look at the time stamp!
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Old 06-14-2017, 08:15 AM
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Among those that have a form of synesthesia where numbers evoke colors, are there any common combinations, or do most/all those when see a number("5", for instance) see totally different colors?
Everyone's is unique, but there are some significant patterns for certain letters. Many people see A as red and C as yellow, for instance- which bugs me, because my A and C are exactly the other way around.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jennshark View Post
Do the cross connections ever bother you, or do you consider them upgrades? I, of course, only have access to my own thinking and it's difficult to imagine not having these associations. I'm honestly surprised that synesthesia isn't a common experience (as derived from this sample size of eight respondents )

. . . just when I thought I couldn't get any weirder!
For me, it's just normal. Like if someone asks, "Isn't it distracting that food has both taste and texture for you?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
AIUI, synesthesia is when one sensory input evokes an unrelated sensation: someone's ears receive music, and they perceive a smell or taste, for example. They may see numbers on a page, and literally see them as being rendered in various colors.

People here seem to be describing ideasthesia,, in which merely thinking about certain concepts (numbers, letters, words, etc.) evokes other perceptions (e.g. colors, shapes, or emotions) that have no rational connection. I have this condition, in that I associate darker colors and more stressed-out moods with 4,5,6 (or anything from 40-69), whereas 7,8,9 (and 70-99) are bright, warm, happy. 1, 2, 3 (or 1-39) are light, but sterile, bleak, bland. this happens in my mind, even without seeing or hearing such numbers.
Concept synesthesia was lumped in with sensory synesthesia in the aforementioned Wednesday is Indigo Blue.

As for non-localized synesthesia not being "real" synesthesia- I have never seen anyone say that before. Especially since it's the most common type. To quote Wikipedia, "Cytowic's early cases mainly included individuals whose synesthesia was frankly projected outside the body (e.g. on a "screen" in front of one's face). Later research showed that such stark externalization occurs in a minority of synesthetes. Refining this concept, Cytowic and Eagleman differentiated between "localizers" and "non-localizers" to distinguish those synesthetes whose perceptions have a definite sense of spatial quality from those whose perceptions do not.[3]"
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Old 06-14-2017, 08:17 AM
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It's probably not proper synesthesia, but I have this thing with guitar chord shapes. I've mentioned it before. It's not a super strong perception, but it's constant, and it has been the same since I first picked up the guitar. It's only chord shapes as I play them, not the chords as they sound. It stays the same when I play with a capo, and, heck, I can't really tell chords apart by ear much anyway. I have like the opposite of perfect pitch. Anyway:

A = blue. B = orange. C = yellow. D = red. E = white. F = green. G = purple.

Am = light blue. Bm = peach. Cm = a rather ugly yellow (so I don't like that chord much). Dm = a very bright red. Em = still white. Fm = dark green. Gm = a greyish sort of pink.

It works for other types of chords, too, but not all of them. And, yes, this does lead to whole songs having colors, sometimes, or color themes. "Back to the Old House" by the Smiths has a lovely yellow-chartreuse-green thing going on. "Things Behind the Sun" by Nick Drake is very blue, with some blue-green, and some red splotches. And so on.
Sounds like perfectly normal sound->color synesthesia to me. Welcome to the club.
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Old 06-14-2017, 10:30 AM
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No.

Why would you assume that most people have this?
It is not so hard to understand. We tend to think of ourselves as normal and that most everyone's experience is comparable to our own. Hell, until I saw an article on aphantasia I thought that "picture it in your head" was just an expression and that people did not actually picture things in their heads because I don't. I never have and I thought that was normal. Turns out that I'm the abnormal one. Who knew?

Edit to add, I have no trace of synesthesia although my 11 year old claims to have strong associations of colour to her numbers (6 is purple).

Last edited by Cyros; 06-14-2017 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 06-14-2017, 10:40 AM
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"Synesthesia: Don't most people have some form of it?"

Ah, no. Not really.
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Old 06-14-2017, 10:59 AM
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Think about it: you're just seeing markings right now, yet they're (probably) accompanied by hearing a voice in your mind.
And that symbols -> voices thing is absolutely a hard-wired thing in your brain now; it's not purely conscious, that would be far too slow.
That's a whole nother issue we've had threads about. Some people hear the words in their mind when they read; some don't.
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Old 06-14-2017, 11:01 AM
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Sounds like perfectly normal sound->color synesthesia to me. Welcome to the club.
No, because it's not sound. Just chord shapes. It's just when I play something. If I listen to a song, or other music, that I have no idea how to play, nothing happens.
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Old 06-14-2017, 12:50 PM
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I guess I have a slight case; I do cross associate things but it's so automatic as to be almost unnoticeable. Misophonia on the other hand kicks my ass.
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Old 06-14-2017, 01:15 PM
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That's a whole nother issue we've had threads about. Some people hear the words in their mind when they read; some don't.
I know. That's why I said probably; an internal narrator seems to be more common.
Anyway, let's just say some people then.
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Old 06-14-2017, 01:37 PM
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It is not so hard to understand. We tend to think of ourselves as normal and that most everyone's experience is comparable to our own. Hell, until I saw an article on aphantasia I thought that "picture it in your head" was just an expression and that people did not actually picture things in their heads because I don't. I never have and I thought that was normal. Turns out that I'm the abnormal one. Who knew?

Edit to add, I have no trace of synesthesia although my 11 year old claims to have strong associations of colour to her numbers (6 is purple).
Exactly, Cyros. I've never not seen the world this way, and until relatively recently I didn't know synesthesia was considered a medical-ish condition and not how most people see the world.

I think ideasynthesia more closely matches my visualizing/connectivity patterns. I don't actually see letters, numbers, colors, etc floating around like hallucinations, it's just a deep inner sense of "how things are." I think I'm a voracious reader because I translate text into very vivid and entertaining inner scenarios.

Because a few have mentioned seizures: I had three grand mal seizures in one night a few years ago and experienced hallucinations for about 48 hours post-ictal; the manifestations were euphoric, sometimes scary, and the only time in my life I felt the presence of God. (PSA: Tramadol is Satan's own drug. It really can cause seizures, thanks be that I haven't had any since stopping the drug).
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Old 06-14-2017, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by WOOKINPANUB View Post
I guess I have a slight case; I do cross associate things but it's so automatic as to be almost unnoticeable. Misophonia on the other hand kicks my ass.
From what I've read, misophonia is awful does anything help with it?
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Old 06-14-2017, 02:20 PM
amarinth is offline
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No,
The closest I come is things like thinking of certain states as being certain colors. But I know that's from a "50 states puzzle" that I had when I was little where each state was a different color. I have a couple of other strong associations between senses, but they're based in experiences and memories.
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Old 06-14-2017, 03:11 PM
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From what I've read, misophonia is awful does anything help with it?
Not really The best I can do is have music on at my desk and try to concentrate on it. It really is tiring feeling like you constantly want to punch people who you otherwise have no problem with.
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Old 06-14-2017, 03:20 PM
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I have some form of synesthesia, but it has nothing to do with colors. It is how I view numbers on a zig zag line going different 3 dimensional directions.

Mine started in 1st grade.

Last edited by Omar Little; 06-14-2017 at 03:20 PM.
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